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lupitachica

Changing CMS

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I'm really interested in hearing what people think about how to fix the schools. I read an article recently in Creative Loafing that talks about the difference btwn schools in Pitt County and Mecklenburg County and how Pitt schools are beating the CMS ones by a mile even though the majority of kids are "poor" and despite spending $100 less per student.

Are the CMS leaders deliberately failing our kids. And is all this money they've gotten & are asking for really making it into the classrooms.

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Are the CMS leaders deliberately failing our kids. And is all this money they've gotten & are asking for really making it into the classrooms.

Deliberately? :huh:

No, but there certainly are problems.

My personal first step is to make principals the most accountable part of the system. More control should be put in their hands, but they need to produce results to keep their job....not just shuffled around from school to school if they can't perform.

There also needs to be greater rewards for higher performing teachers. I imagine it to be disheartening for any teacher that has a high pass rate to be treated and compenstated nearly equally to one that has a low pass rate. Related to this, teachers should be given more leeway in preparing syllabi (Sp?). I believe that giving ownership of the teaching experience back to the teachers, and rewarding those who use it to teach at a high level, and firing those that aren't effective is a major step in the right direction. In regards to whether this would put further problems on recruiting teachers I think a couple of things will result.

The first few years, yes, there will be a major teacher shortage, but better to be taught by a qualified and happy teacher in a crowded classroom than by someone showing up to collect a paycheck.

The reputation of CMS will improve, and will be attractive to potential teachers if they know they are part of system the rewards strong performance. The corollary is that CMS will not be attractive to uninspired teachers.

HOWEVER!!!! The most important thing (which is probably outside the control of CMS) is to make all parents give a crap about their kids success. The attitude of the students is generally a reflection of their parents, and negative student attitudes is IMO the biggest liability to any school system.

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I agree about the attitude adjustments needed but given the fact that the majority of the Pitt students come from families & communities that stereotypically have been considered "troubled" & "difficult to teach" it sort of lends credence to the notion that the issue is less about the students/families and more about how they are being taught and how their schools are being run. If the information in the article is accurate, the Pitt schools are beating the top Mecklenburg schools by a mile w/ less money to boot.

I've been reading up on the CMS system and education in NC in general. I just get the impression that there is more going on behind the scenes that has less to do with what's best for our kids and more to do with people retaining power. I'm not seeing innovative solutions at all.

I thought this was an interesting article.

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HOWEVER!!!! The most important thing (which is probably outside the control of CMS) is to make all parents give a crap about their kids success. The attitude of the students is generally a reflection of their parents, and negative student attitudes is IMO the biggest liability to any school system.

Amen!! It always begins at home. If parents don't give a rat's a*s about their kid's education, the kid certainly won't care. Ignorant people breed ignorant children. After all, parents are a child's biggest role model, aren't they?

Blaming society and the "system", including schools - in general, not taking responsibility for one's own actions - is a simple way to make excuses for one's own failure to adequately raise their children. Parents should look in the mirror and ask themselves why their kids are a menace to society and, while they are in the habit of asking questions, ask themselves where the heck their kids are at 9pm on a weeknight. Why aren't they home doing homework?

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Are the CMS leaders deliberately failing our kids. And is all this money they've gotten & are asking for really making it into the classrooms.

To be fair, Mecklenburg has almost 6X the number of people as Pitt and growing almost 3X faster. This difference creates unique problems for Meck. that don't exist in Pitt.

With that said there are a lot of problems in CMS that should not be there. I don't think the faiures are deliberate, but there is a lot of incompetance in CMS and the CMS board is highly polarized politically and very arrogant. Many times politics takes precidence over what is good for the schools and the children they are supposed to teach.

I am a believer that to fix the problem you have to go to the top and that means the board should be overhauled by changing the way it is chosen. There is a recommendation from the recent citizens advisory panel that suggests the district voting system should be eliminated which is causing a lot of the political divisions. I tend to agree with that. I also have my doubts that a school system, that is centrally administered as CMS is, can do an effective job in a county that is closing in on a million people. I really think the county should be broken up into several independent school systems with some possible sharing of resources where it makes sense. I also think that principals should be given more autonomy over what happens in their schools.

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To be fair, Mecklenburg has almost 6X the number of people as Pitt and growing almost 3X faster. This difference creates unique problems for Meck. that don't exist in Pitt.
True indeed. I just thought it was interesting to learn that they've been able to turn around a system to this degree in a relatively short period of time. Particularly with children that often, imo, are written off. I would think that similar measures (on a larger scale) could be very effective here.

There is a recommendation from the recent citizens advisory panel that suggests the district voting system should be eliminated which is causing a lot of the political divisions.
Yeah, I've been reading news articles about the heavy political divisions. I'm trying to determine what the infighting is all about.

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Yeah, I've been reading news articles about the heavy political divisions. I'm trying to determine what the infighting is all about.

Most likely the collapse of the CMS Board had its beginnings in the late 1990's court case against CMS to end court ordered busing. CMS fought that battle all the way to the US Supreme Ct. which refused to hear the case and left standing a lower court order to eliminate race as a criteria for school assignments. Busing was replaced by the school choice plan that existed up until this year.

Unfortunately the school board is made up of people who were on the board back when the court battle was going on as well as at least one of the parents that successfully brought the suit against the school system. There is a lot of still a lot bad blood from that time and the constant vendettas, accusations, etc. have torn the board apart.

This is my opinion on why the CMS board is now disfunctional. If you are interested in the roots of all of this infighting I recommend reading up on what happened with that case.

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One of the issues is the painfully low pay of teachers. Teachers here make MUCH less than many other places around the country. Teachers with experience are heading north to find better paying jobs. Teachers from up north with no experience move here to collect thier 25 grand a year and get a few years experience before they leave and head back to a well paying state. If you are a good teacher and can make 20,000 more by moving to PA...wouldn't you??? I have two friends here who have done exactly that. Two years at CMS and they went back to PA and get a 15k bump in pay. Just like any job in corporate america, you have to pay to get the best talent. It all starts with good teachers.

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One of the issues is the painfully low pay of teachers. Teachers here make MUCH less than many other places around the country. Teachers with experience are heading north to find better paying jobs. Teachers from up north with no experience move here to collect thier 25 grand a year and get a few years experience before they leave and head back to a well paying state. If you are a good teacher and can make 20,000 more by moving to PA...wouldn't you??? I have two friends here who have done exactly that. Two years at CMS and they went back to PA and get a 15k bump in pay. Just like any job in corporate america, you have to pay to get the best talent. It all starts with good teachers.

And if you want to pay higher salaries to attract the best teaching talent, be prepared for major raises in property taxes. I guess this is why people tolerate $15-20K annual property taxes + in the northeast - for the better public schools. Or else, you can keep your $3K annual prop taxes and send your kid to private school with the savings.

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Yes, but we have some decent schools in this state that operate on less public funding than CMS needs. Hence, the growth to Gaston, Union, South Carolina...

I went to public high school in Guilford county. A pretty well managed one, and my parents were paying less than $1000 a year in county-only taxes. They're quite pleased to have avoided years and years of Greensboro city tax.

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I'm curious though....do these schools outside of Meck. Co. really do a better job educating students?

These areas typically have a much higher share of higher income families, which directly correlates to better performing students (on average). If you were to take the students in CMS who come from families making > $75k, and compare them to students in surrounding counties from the same income cohort, I bet there would be no difference in in-of-year test results and SAT scores.....I'm purely speculating though......I think the best that is legally disclosed is scores based on whether or not the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

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Contrary to what one might believe, I have seen that parents in the lower and moderate income brackets are often more engaged with the school system and having a desire for their kids to get a good education, than those who would be considered well off or rich. Where it is really a problem are in broken families, families plagued with drugs and one parent or no parent families. Mecklenburg probably has a bigger percentage in this bracket as well as "don't give a damn" very well off bunch.

I realize this is a general stereotype and individual exceptions occur, but Mecklenburg is no doubt less homogenous than most of non-urban NC which leads to complex problems due to the lack of "community" amoungst these various demographic groups. CMS is not prepared to deal with it.

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In some ways, you might be right, metro, about the engagement of lower income parents. In my wife's experience, there are quite a few that are very good about staying in touch, understanding how to reinforce the right things to get their kids on track. There is also a sizeable group of parents in that lower income tier that don't have much of an education and go about things the wrong way. Many of those types of parents will say "I never did that in school, why should my daughter" or "my son shouldn't get a zero just for copying his friend's paper, he at least did some work in copying it" :). There are quite a few more examples. There are also some that are completely oblivious until grade time, and they want to just argue to get a higher grade.

But for the most part, I think most parents, regardless of income, are involved to a degree. It is hard to know if that is a good thing, though, as many of the right things to do in education are paradoxes, and are sometimes difficult to explain to parents. CMS usually does the wrong things because they are easily pressured by parents demands.

As for whether school systems in nearby counties are doing a better job, I'd say they are much more efficient in their management of resources because they have much few resources. I'd say even with lower taxes, they probably spend a lot less on central overhead and things that don't contribute to core education (classrooms, books, and teachers). It would be a huge undertaking, but Charlotte could probably have better education results AND less taxes if the system's overhead was cut significantly. I'd say a much lower percentage of resources here are spent on core components that in other places.

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